Otis College Debuts O-Launch ’22, Showcasing Work of Graduating Class

Designer Ashley Alarcon & Farhan Fallahifiroozi under Kevan Hall mentorship

To celebrate the return of in-person events, Otis College of Art and Design held O-Launch ’22 May 13–15 to showcase the future of art and design and highlight the work of the college’s graduating students. The event ended with the commencement ceremony.

On May 13, a preview allowed employers in Los Angeles’ creative industries to meet and connect with the graduating students and view their senior projects. This was followed by an opening reception for students, alumni and friends of Otis to view the work. There was also a sale of ceramic works made by students.

The Annual Exhibition was held on May 14 and showcased the work of graduating students in the BFA and MFA programs as well as in Interdisciplinary Studies. Held in the campus commons, Saturday night ended with the Fashion Department’s annual runway show showing the work of the junior and senior classes. The theme of the show was “Agents of Change” and aimed to highlight the transition of the fashion industry into a more sustainable and environmentally friendly industry and how the students can and will make an impact after graduation.

“As we emerge from navigating through the challenges of online learning, students are directing their attention to the overarching problem of consumption and waste,” said Jill Zeleznik, chair of the Fashion Design department at Otis. “Today’s consumers are taking a closer look at their role in creating a more sustainable environment. Now more than ever it is imperative to explore leading-edge solutions to foster ecological integrity and consciousness on a holistic level.

“These goals can be accomplished by using eco-friendly textiles, efficient application of fabrics, elevating the quality of garments and reducing the need for fast fashion,” added Zeleznik. “It is the Otis College Fashion Program’s intention to equip aspiring fashion designers with the knowledge and skills they need to leave a lasting positive impact on the apparel industry and the natural environment.”

Fashion Design students worked with mentors Michelle Kwak of NikeKourtney Morgan of PatagoniaRhuigi Villasenor of Rhudecostume designer Trish Summerville, Fashion Design chair emeritus Rosemary Brantley, and designers Zaid Affas and Kevan Hall to develop collections using a variety of recycled materials such as old product and using different sustainable and eco-friendly production practices that embrace being an Agent of Change .

For the work with Nike, the students repurposed old football jerseys into new pieces including dresses, jackets and hats. An updated take on the modern power suit made with upcycled materials was developed in collaboration with Rhude.

The Fashion Design department had also offered an elective course for the first time called Fashioning the Fantastic, which was mentored by Timothy McGrath, design director of Activision Blizzard‘s Call of Duty franchise and conducted in collaboration with Otis’s Digital Media department.

“My designs embody the Agents of Change theme both in spirit and practice,” said graduating senior Elias Childress. “Part of being an Agent of Change is cutting down on waste and overconsumption in the fashion industry. My work with Zaid Affas achieved that through convertible clothing made for multiple wearings. These designs, which can be changed while on the body, can change the way people think about buying clothing and change the way people relate to the clothes they already own.”

The students took to heart the Agents of Change theme and believe in the impact they will make on the future of the fashion industry. As sustainability remains at the forefront of issues for the industry to tackle, the new generation of consumers and designers believe change is a goal that can be achieved.

“My peers and I have an innate sense of responsibility for this new world we’re stepping into, and we feel that change can and will be made,” said graduating senior Tico Andrea Conde-Porto. “We are always thinking of new strategies to better ourselves, our work and the world at large. The industry doesn’t always feel the responsibility to better the environment, but that will change once my generation takes on roles of greater importance. We are here to spread love and positivity and to uplift all communities. Because of this, I have high hopes for the future of fashion.”

The final day of O-Launch featured the commencement ceremony for the 2022 graduating class. Honorary degrees were awarded to Miranda Kerr, supermodel and founder and CEO of KORA Organics; co-founder and CEO of Snap Inc. Evan Spiegel; and Bobby Berk, design expert and host of the television series “Queer Eye.”

As a gift to the graduating class, Kerr and Spiegel, through the Spiegel Family Fund, announced they would be paying all of the graduating students’ loans taken out during their time at Otis and verified through the school’s financial-aid office, resulting in the largest single gift donation in the history of Otis College. The donation will also be used to establish the Alternative Loan Debt Repayment Fund,which will be used by Otis to make charitable gifts to graduating students with loans secured outside of Otis College.

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